The giveaway for The Wolverine Files has ended and the five winners have been selected using The winners are:

Pamela M., Texas
Jake L., New York
Shaun D., California
Summer P., Canada
David L., New Jersey

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the books. Although I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, I have looked through it and it is a very nice-looking book.

Orannia has presented me with the Little CJ Blog Award. Thanks, Orannia! I am honored (and frightened by Little CJ’s threat but more pleased than scared).

Little CJ has ordained that I must pass this award on to only two blogs, thus proving she is truly diabolical in nature. Only two of the many fantastic blogs I read? That’s really tough. So I decided to use the same method Orannia did – which blogs have added a lot to my TBR list. After looking through the wishlist and recent purchases, there are two blogs that stand out as major contributors:

The Book Smugglers
Fantasy Debut

Good work for keeping me from ever getting near the bottom of that to-read pile!


Sometime in June, I want to read a book by an author who is new to me and has had a book sitting unread on my shelf for at least a year. I’m not sure which one to choose, though, so I made a poll for it. The poll will stay open until I finish The Silver Metal Lover and either Busted Flush or The Last Argument of Kings.

The options are:

J.V. Jones – A Cavern of Black Ice
Catherynne Valente – The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden
Laura Resnick – In Legend Born
John Varley – Titan
Tim Powers – The Anubis Gates

Which one do you want me to read and review sometime in June?

This morning I did finish my May book (hard science fiction), The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It took a long time to get going and I almost put it down a few times, but once it got going it was good and I ended up glad I stuck with it. I need to do some laundry and make a birthday cake so I’m not sure I’ll get to review it today, but hopefully I’ll get to review it sometime over the next week.

Interested in reading all about Wolverine from the X-Men? I have five copies of The Wolverine Files by Mike W. Barr to give away (sorry, US and Canada residents only for this one).

Here is the book description from the Simon and Schuster website (where you can also purchase The Wolverine Files if you absolutely can’t wait to find out if you won a copy):

This book is a top secret compilation of all known facts about the mutant called Wolverine (a/k/a Logan, Weapon X, Patch, the Runt). This report, generated by the concerted effort of SHIELD (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division) agents, is intended for the eyes of SHIELD personnel only, and is not to be copied, distributed, disseminated, or in any other way leaked to the general public due to the delicate nature of the information herein. It details Wolverine’s origins, career, friends, allies, in all manner of specifics.

Be aware that representatives from Simon & Schuster publishing have been sniffing around, endeavoring to obtain this information through the Freedom of Information Act. We cannot begin to imagine the tremendous, even incalculable damage that would be sustained by both Wolverine and by our information-gathering forces should this report wind up for purchase in local bookstores. Let us hope such an event never comes to pass.

Also, if you are interested you can sign up to receive Simon & Schuster book news, videos and more.

Giveaway Rules

If you would like to enter, just send an email to fantasycafe AT novomancy dot org with the subject “Wolverine.” Please include your name and mailing address so the book can be sent to you as quickly as possible if you are fortunate enough to win a copy. The giveaway ends on Thursday June 4.

Good luck!

Santa Olivia
by Jacqueline Carey
352pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.17/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.89/5

Santa Olivia is one of two new books being released by Jacqueline Carey, author of the well-known Kushiel’s Legacy series, this year. Its official publication date is May 29. All of Carey’s other books are epic fantasy, and this urban fantasy is very different from her previous work. As far as I know, this novel is a stand alone, but there is plenty of room for a sequel even though it has a satisfying ending.

The people feel as though they have been abandoned by God in Santa Olivia, which lies between the United States and Mexico. First, a deadly illness swept through it. Second, rumors abound about the threat of the Mexican general El Segundo. Soon after that, Santa Olivia was occupied by the army, walled off from the rest of the world, and declared Outpost No. 12, no longer a part of the United States of America. The only way out of Outpost No. 12 is to defeat the General Argyle’s champion at boxing. The general is obsessed with the sport and has promised that anyone who wins the match can leave and choose one person to take with them.

Carmen Garron, a woman with a young son by a deceased soldier, met Martin, a mysterious man she believed to be a deserter. In spite of this, she finds herself strangely drawn to him and invites him to say with herself and her child Tommy. Eventually, Carmen discovers Martin is actually one of The Lost Boys, children who were experimented upon since they were about 8 years old and made into wolf/human hybrids. Not only is Martin stronger and faster than humans, but he also does not to feel fear of any sort. He and Carmen fall in love, but sadly, Martin is forced to flee soon after Carmen finds out she is pregnant.

Carmen has a baby girl and names her Loup, the name Martin picked out for the child. Like her father, Loup is faster and stronger than normal and she has to be taught to think carefully before she acts since she does not have the natural instinct of fear. When Loup is ten years old, Carmen dies and she and Tommy are sent to separate places – Loup moves in with the other orphans at the community church and Tommy lives at the gym where he continues to train as a boxer, more determined than ever to get himself and Loup out of Outpost No. 12. Meanwhile, Loup and her fellow orphans become angered by the acts of some of the soldiers and decide to use Loup’s special abilities to provide some vigilante justice, all under the guise of the child saint Santa Olivia.

The only other novel by Jacqueline Carey I have read is Kushiel’s Dart, a dense dark fantasy book with a very intriguing alternate Europe. Santa Olivia is very different from this novel, and I am impressed by Carey’s diversity. This urban fantasy is much shorter and more concisely written – while Kushiel’s Dart took me 2 weeks to get through, Santa Olivia took me only 2 days to read in its entirety. The new novel is set in modern times and is confined to one basic area instead of the sprawling world in Kushiel’s Dart. Language used in dialogue is much more modern with quite a bit of profanity.

While the writing style and world are very different, there are some basic similarities between Kushiel’s Dart and Santa Olivia. Both main characters are different from everyone else and each struggles with these differences, particularly when it comes to love. Carey is not easy on the main protagonist in either story, although Santa Olivia is overall less dark than Kushiel’s Dart. There is some focus on religion, although the town of Santa Olivia has Catholicism as opposed to the religion based on ‘love as thou wilt’ in the Kushiel’s Legacy series.

Santa Olivia was one of those books I could hardly put down because I just had to read the next chapter… and then the next… and then the next one. The beginning about Carmen was interesting and well-written, but I felt that the novel did not really start hooking me until Loup became the main character. Looking back at the earlier chapters, most of the background on the town and its transformation to Outpost No. 12 and Carmen’s life before Loup added a lot to the story and set the tone of the desperate lives of the citizens. (The first chapter about the change from Santa Olivia to Outpost No. 12 had me riveted but I started feeling like Carmen’s history was dragging after that unless it involved Martin.) So I think I was just being impatient about getting to the meat of the story, but reading about Loup was still the best part. Even the parts about boxing kept me glued to the book, and I’ve always thought a sport that consisted of two people beating each other up is pretty stupid. [Ed: as opposed to reading about duels, massive battles, and schemes to kill? Gotcha.]

My favorite parts were definitely anything where Loup and her friends sent a message from Santa Olivia. I loved seeing what they came up with and the reaction to the visitations. The orphans would carefully plan, scout locations, and use everyone’s skills, not just Loup’s strength and speed. The smarter children would write the messages from Santa Olivia and do their best to make sure everything worked without a hitch. It was still always risky, but it always seemed at least somewhat believable that they managed to pull it off and even more so that the people would want to believe in the saint’s intervention. In a town that felt abandoned by God, it gave so much hope to think that Santa Olivia had not forgotten them and was looking out for her people.

The dialogue is very well-written – sometimes humorous, sometimes touching, and it says a lot about the characters in a book that never really gets very deeply into anyone’s head. Loup tends to be calm and controlled, Jane is always snarky, Pilar is sweet and flirty, and Sister Martha and Father Ramon cracked me up with lines such as:

It seems Santa Olivia and her basket of plenitude has turned into an ass-kicking masked avenger. (Father Ramon, p. 114)

Let the rigid stick of self-righteousness be dislodged from her very uptight ass. (Sister Martha, p. 127)

This was a book I read more for the plot than the characters, but I did love Loup, her brother Tommy, and Miguel. Of course, Loup is the star – so sympathetic since she was so different from the other teenagers she grew up with and knew so little about her genetics. She had to be careful not to reveal she had some abilities other humans did not and this was something she had to learn without fearing anything. They sometimes viewed her as a freak anyway, but she also found that anyone who paired up with her found kissing her felt very weird.

Santa Olivia is a well-written novel, at times touching and at other times tragic, about hope, love, growing up and being different. While it didn’t resonate with me personally as much as the gorgeous world of Kushiel’s Dart, it was still very enjoyable. Highly recommended.


Read Chapter One


Well, I mostly stuck to my reading plan for this month. Amazon was shipping Jacqueline Carey’s Santa Olivia earlier than I’d expected so I got a copy of that a couple of days ago and stopped reading The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle to read that one. It was a quick read and I finished it today so I’ll go back to reading The Mote in God’s Eye. I noticed today that there is a sad lack of science fiction in the books I’ve read this year.

On Tuesday (the 26th) there will be a book giveaway! For those of you who love free books (and who doesn’t?!), be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Tomorrow I plan to get started on that Santa Olivia review. For reading, I have a partial plan for next month and the end of this month (if I happen to finish The Mote in God’s Eye before then – it’s longer than it looks and I’m only three chapters in so I may not). I was going to squeeze the second of the new Wild Cards books, Busted Flush, in this month if I had time and if not read it next month. Also, I want to read The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie before reading my copy of his Best Served Cold (it’s a stand alone set in the same world as the First Law books but I have heard it gives away the ending of the trilogy, which I have already read 2/3 of). Other than that, I’m not completely sure what I’ll read next month. A friend is sending me some books and she only told me what one of them is but said I must read it soon so that one will most likely be on next month’s list (Tanith Lee’s Silver Metal Lover). I think I might just pick something that’s been sitting on my shelf unread for a long time for my challenge book of the month.